Powering Strong Communities

Senate Democrats Unveil Permitting Reform Discussion Draft

A group of U.S. Senate Democrats recently introduced a permitting reform discussion draft, the fourth major permitting reform proposal in the Senate this year.

The proposal – the Promoting Efficient and Engaged Reviews (PEER) Act -- was put forward by Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tina Smith (D-NM), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

The three other permitting reform proposals are EPW Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) Revitalizing the Economy by Simplifying Timelines and Assuring Regulatory Transparency (RESTART) Act, the Spur Permitting of Underdeveloped Resources (SPUR) Act from Senate Energy & Natural Resources (ENR) Committee Ranking Member John Barrasso, and the Building American Energy Security Act of 2023 from ENR Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV).

A section-by-section of the PEER Act and factsheet note that proposal is primarily concerned with improving the permitting process for projects that “address climate change or its impacts.”

While it includes a two-year environmental review process guideline and shortens the statute of limitations on National Environmental Policy Act litigation from six to three years, in general, it does not include the same level of reforms to NEPA as the other Senate proposals.

The PEER Act includes language on transmission that would direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to establish regional and interregional transmission planning and cost allocation processes that account for a broad set of benefits, including meeting decarbonization goals and supporting renewable energy, requiring a minimum amount of transfer capacity between transmission planning regions, and broadly expanding FERC’s authority to site and permit certain high voltage transmission lines.